Kingdoms of
Ancient Egypt
• Unification
• Originally two kingdoms developed along the Nile
River
• Lower Egypt
– Located along the northern Nile
– Good farmland
• Upper Egypt
– Located along the southern Nile
– 1st Ruler named Menes
– He established first dynasty
– Built capital at Memphis
Geography of the Nile Region
• River
– Flows north
– Ends in the Mediterranean Sea
– Longest river
in the world
at 4,160 miles
The Nile
• Floods
–Until recently, flooded annually
in July
–Floods predictable
–Added moisture to the soil
–Deposited silt, replenishing the
soil with nutrients
–Caused delta to form at the
mouth of the river
Nile River and delta from
space
Influence of Geography on
Civilization
• Natural barriers provide obstacles to
potential invaders
– Mediterranean Sea to the North
– Libyan Desert to the West
– Nubian Desert to the Southeast
– Red Sea to the East
Effect of Barriers
• Limited invasions from many directions
• Limited farming to a narrow region on either
side of the river
• Caused river villages to be crowded
– As population grew, villages needed to expand
– Irrigation helped to create more fertile land for
farming
Benefits of the Nile
• The river served as a highway
– United villages along the river
– Travel was relatively easy on the river
– Currents carried barges downstream (North) to the
delta
– Sails used to catch winds to return upstream (South)
• Additional benefits
– River attracted wildlife and provided fish for hunting
& sport
– Papyrus grew along river
• Used to make paper
Religion in Ancient Egypt
• Beliefs
– Nature important-gods control forces of nature
– Polytheistic (many gods)
– Gods control forces of nature
– Gods controlled all life and death
– Gods frequently identified with certain animals
• Egyptian Gods
– Aman Re
• Most important god
• Sun god
• East represented birth (sunrise)
• West represented death (sunset)
• Burial temples built on the West bank of the Nile
Religion
– Osiris
• God of the underworld -periodically dies and is
reborn
• Judges the dead
• Rise & fall of the Nile believed to be
the death & rebirth of Osiris
– Isis
• Wife of Osiris
• Brought him back to life
• Nile floods and brings renewed life
Religion
• The Afterlife
– Egyptians believed in a life after death
– Believed the good lived in happiness
– Believed the dead needed to take with
them things they would need in death
– Believed the earthly body would be
needed as a home for the soul
– Preserved the bodies of the dead through
mummification
• Originally reserved for rulers and nobles
Tutankhamen (aka King Tut)
Howard Carter discovers King
Tut Tomb in 1922
System of Writing
• Record keeping of religious rituals prompted
writing
• ~3,100 BC
– pictograms- picture of object
– Ideograms added to convey ideas
– Added symbols for sounds
– No symbols for vowel sounds
• Symbols evolved into hieroglyphics
• Writings carved in wood or stone
• Later, symbols painted in ink on papyrus
Hieroglyphics
The Rosetta Stone
• Slab of black rock carved in three
languages
– Hieroglyphics
– Demotic (shorthand hieroglyphics)
– Greek
• Found in 1799
• 1822- French scholar Jean Chapollion
cracked the code of hieroglyphics
because he could read Greek
• Enabled scholars to decipher papyrus
scrolls of hieroglyphics
What Characterized Civilization
in Ancient Egypt?
• Civilizations developed when people could
stay put and not have to wander after their
food supply.
• When people began to grow food, they
became more organized
• Divisions in labor developed to decide who
did what
– Farmers, herders, artisans, government
• Cities grew with this organization
• Civilization & cities often thought to go hand
in hand
The Old Kingdom
2700-2200 BC
• Strong monarchs
• Tasks delegated to many gov’t officials
• Built pyramids and Sphinx
The Middle Kingdom
•
•
•
•
~2050-1800 BC
New capital Thebes in upper (southern)
Egypt
~1900 BC ruler becomes known as the
pharaoh
Hyksos-people from Asia who brought the
chariot and compound bow.
Through trade and conquest, Egyptians learn
other ideas and blend cultures (movement)
New Kingdom
~1570- 1090 BC
Pharaohs had absolute control over the government
and established an empire.
• Early female ruler Hatshepsut
• 1370 BC Amenhotep rises to power
– makes many unsettling changes
– Makes Egyptians monotheistic
• Aton the sun god
New Kingdom
• 1200’s BC rule of Ramses II
– Long rule
– Many children (52 sons, plus
daughters…)
– Had temples and tombs built by
Hebrew slaves
Mummy of
Ramses II
Pharaohs organized
centralized state
Corrupt government
suffered frequent
rebellions
Pharaohs created a
large empire
Built enormous
tombs, the pyramids
Land drained for
farming
Traded with lands
along eastern
Mediterranean and
Red Sea
Power struggles,
crop failures and cost
of pyramids caused
collapse
Hittites invaded and
conquered
Nubians, then others
invaded
Egyptian Society
• Social Class
– A person’s social position and occupation
determined at birth
• Social Structure
– Top = Pharaoh
• Ruling class of priests & nobles
• Middle class of merchants, artisans, doctors
– Bottom = Slaves
Egyptian Society
• Status of Women
– Relatively high status for that time in history
– Could buy and sell property
– Could seek divorce (although rare)
– Property inherited through female line
Education
• Original purpose of schools was to
train priests
• Subjects taught
–Reading & writing
–Math
–Religious ceremonies & rituals
• Eventually temple schools
provided more general education
Scribes
•
•
•
•
Scribes were very important
Kept records, recorded history
Could possibly become rich
About the only social mobility of the
era
Scientific Accomplishments
• In areas of math and science
• Developed system of surveying land
– Important due to annual floods
• Surveying land led to Geometry
– Area & volume helped to build
– the pyramids
Scientific Accomplishments
• Development of astronomy
– To predict floods, eclipses
– Led to development of calendar
• 365 days, 12 months
• 3 seasons, 30 days for 11 months, 35 for
the 12th
• No leap year
• Development of building techniques
– engineering
Scientific Accomplishments
• Medical discoveries
– Magic heavily used
– Developed surgery
– Greeks & Romans based much of
their medical knowledge on that of
the Egyptians
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Kingdoms of Ancient Egypt